Are PowerPoints Passé?

PowerPointsAs is the case with any public relations firm, we have done our share of preparing PowerPoint presentations.  Although many of our clients prefer using a PowerPoint to going PowerPoint-less, we believe it has become an overused tool, one that is actually more of a crutch than an aid.

We do realize that there are benefits to PowerPoint presentations:

  • PowerPoints are simple to use and offer a quick way to organize your thoughts and turn them into an effective presentation.
  • PowerPoints emphasize the key parts of your presentation, making it easier for someone to catch the critical points, especially if you are presenting a highly detailed study, report or survey.
  • PowerPoints offer countless design templates that can add value to your speech while keeping the attention of your audience.

But there are drawbacks as well:

  • Instead of a visual aid for the speaker, the speaker becomes an audio aid for the slides.
  • It’s easy to become dependent on a PowerPoint illustration when you could actually find a more creative and interesting way to make a point by forming a mental picture using words.
  • To be sincere and authentic, you can’t appear to be too scripted.  But with a PowerPoint presentation, you often can’t avoid looking scripted.

That said, we recently saw one of the most entertaining presentations in a long time given by a local leadership trainer.  Thinking back, we remember she used a PowerPoint, but we really didn’t even think about the presence of it until now.  The point being :  A good presenter is a good presenter, whether he or she uses a PowerPoint or not.

On the flip side, what if the Gettysburg Address had been delivered with the aid of a PowerPoint?  Check out this PowerPoint presentation of the Gettysburg Address, developed by Peter Norvig, Director of Search Quality at Google, to imagine what Abe Lincoln might have done if he had used PPT rather than the power of oratory at Gettysburg.

If you plan on doing a PowerPoint presentation, you can find some good tips in this article by Brad Phillips in PR Daily.



Posted by Lisa Dimond Vasquez, principal, DoubleDimond Public Relations, LLC.



What social media sites are best for my company?

Social Media SitesI worry that I’m falling behind in doing social media marketing for my company.  Just when I think I have a handle on all the types of social media, I hear of new ones and wonder if I should try them.  What’s the best way to decide what’s best for my company?

I can understand your confusion; it seems there is an endless array of sites out there, and it can get confusing and frustrating to try to keep up.  But it sounds like you are approaching this challenge tactically, rather than strategically.

Think of this as you would a home improvement project.  Your social media sites are your tools.  Do you look at the tools you have and decide what you can do with them?  Or do you look at what needs to be done, make a plan of action, then get the needed tools?  I think most of us would agree that looking at what needs to be achieved is the way to go.

It’s the same with promoting your company.  Determine what you would need to achieve your goals.

  • What kind of company are you promoting?
  • What products or services does it offer?
  • Who is your target customer?
  • When you communicate with them, what response do you want?

Once you do that, you’ll have a better idea of what social media sites will actually produce results for you.

The Social Media Examiner asked some of their top social media specialists for their 2012 predictions.  If you can wade through all 30 predictions, you’ll find some good insights.


PR People: The Film Version

PR People FilmI’m a sucker for classic movies, and the other night I was watching one of my favorites – The Sweet Smell of Success.  It’s a 1957 melodrama with actors Burt Lancaster and Tony Curtis really chewing the proverbial scenery.  The dialogue is priceless.  Who can resist lines like these?

 Press Agent: “If I’m gonna go out on a limb for you, you gotta know what’s involved!”

Columnist: “My right hand hasn’t seen my left hand in thirty years.”

As enjoyable as the movie is, I do have a problem with the character Curtis plays.  Sidney Falco is a totally amoral press agent who is supposed to represent the world of public relations.  He’s portrayed as sleazy, opportunistic, and without any real skill other than for ruining other people’s reputations.  The only positive thing you can say about him is that he works hard – at whatever it is he is doing.  Same for studio publicist Matt Libby, played by Jack Carson in the 1954 version of A Star is Born.  He’s cynical and jaded, but he works very hard to save an egotistical star’s career.

I wish I could say that the portrayal of PR people got better over the years, but from Jack Lemmon’s alcoholic Joe Clay in The Days of Wine and Roses to Kim Cattrall’s party-girl Samantha Jones in Sex and the City, I don’t recognize my profession of 30+ years in any of these portrayals.  Where are the strategy meetings?  Who is doing the writing?  There must be someone writing something, somewhere – an action plan, news release, speech, newsletter, website, blog, anything?  And how about all of those hours on the phone?  These characters are on the phone all right, but that’s the extent of their work, it seems.  What do they do all day?

The stereotypes are clear, if somewhat different for men and women.  With few exceptions, public relations is portrayed as a stress-filled, down-and-dirty field for men and a fun-filled life of party-planning for women.

Most of the public relations people I know are ethical, professional and hard-working.  Well, let’s face it: there’s no drama there!

Posted by Margot Dimond


Pinning down copyright issues

Pinterest has become one of the fastest-growing social networks on the web, with millions of users.  The site allows you to share images from the web using a “pin it” button.  Your images are then published on your Pinterest “board” – a collection of images centered around a topic that you have chosen, such as home design or recipes.

copyright issuesHowever, the nature of the site is bringing up issues of copyright, leading some to fear being sued.  As has been widely reported, one lawyer/photographer deleted all of her Pinterest boards after looking into the legality of Pinterest.  One of the things that concerned her most was Pinterest’s Terms of Use statement, which includes this sentence on “Limitation of Liability”:


In short, if an artist or photographer sues for copyright infringement, you can be held responsible for hiring a defense lawyer for yourself – and even for Pinterest!

Some of us remember when record labels began suing users of the Napster site for violating copyright by sharing music.  Will this go that far?

These legal concerns have led Pinterest to create a “nopin” HTML meta tag that Website can add to opt our of having their photos and media pinned.  That seems to put the burden on the creator of the work, not the user, so it’s unclear how that will work out.


PR Defined – Again

PR DefinedIn response to the ever-changing nature of communication – and  after much discussion and input from its members and the members of other communication organizations – the Public Relations Society of America has an updated definition of public relations:

“Public relations is a strategic communication process that builds mutually beneficial relationships between organizations and their publics.”

Unfortunately, this isn’t a definition the average PR practitioner can use when talking to a potential client.

The irony of “messaging” professionals being unable to come up with their own singular message isn’t lost on most PR practitioners.  In 1982, the last time PRSA updated its definition, we got:  “Public relations helps an organization and its publics adapt mutually to each other.”  At the time, I remember one of my fellow PRSA members complaining that he just wanted something to tell people at cocktail parties.

The difficulty with defining public relations is that its practice has many facets.  During the course of one week, we may be handling a publicity campaign; doing media training; scheduling speaking engagements; writing brochures, newsletters or website content; implementing a social media program; or handling a crisis.  What we do depends on 1) the type of client we represent (or organization we work for); 2) the goal of the PR program; 3) who we are trying to reach, etc.  Our “to do” list changes from day to day, and for the most part, the very unpredictability of public relations is what draws certain people to the profession.

Here’s the thing:  When people ask us what we do and we say public relations, the initial reaction is often a puzzled look, followed by “but what do you do, exactly?”  And the answer to that question will be different for each PR person.

Posted by Margot Dimond